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Walker’s 1834 and Soulshine, two planned concepts from the team behind The Nook, probably won’t open in Midtown as planned.
The restaurants, which got the green light from the City of Atlanta early-2018 to begin construction, were set to replace ParQ in the Community Center building in Piedmont Park.
In mid-2018, at the onset of construction, a 10-foot sinkhole opened up in the would-be Soulshine space directly behind Willy’s.
Co-Owner Katherine Drolett alleges the Piedmont Park Conservancy (the property’s landlord) has been making a “massive effort to hide the cause of the sinkhole and to act like nothing is wrong.”
“We were prevented by Piedmont Park Conservancy’s CEO, Mark Banta, from telling anyone about the condition…in spite of warnings from our engineers and on-site contractors,” Drolett told What Now Atlanta (WNA) in a telephone interview Friday.
“We have tried to warn the public previously, and those warnings fell on deaf ears with the Conservancy’s apparent campaign of misinformation.”
Banta Friday did not immediately comment when reached by WNA through email.
Amy Dietrich, a spokesperson for the Conservancy, later responded with a statement saying, “the Community Center is structurally sound” as per City of Atlanta testing and that “this remains a commercial dispute between landlord and tenant.”
“In the event of a disagreement regarding responsibility or necessity of repairs, the lease provides the tenant the ability to perform such repairs and seek to recover costs from the landlord,” according to the statement.
“Rather than do so, the tenant suspended work and allowed all lease deadlines to pass in default of its obligations under the lease.”
Drolett has been advised by her geotechnical engineers to not continue construction until the cause of the sinkhole has been determined.
“Without knowing the cause of the sinkhole, it’s impossible to know the future impact it will have on the building or the surrounding area,” Drolett said.
“I’m concerned for the safety of the neighboring restaurant and the Piedmont Park Enviroventures Camp which has children playing six feet from the sinkhole.”
Drolett, a longtime supporter and contributor to the Piedmont Park Conservancy for more than two decades, is at a standstill with her landlord.
“It’s like being in a relationship with an abusive partner,” Drolett said.
“Trust is completely broken.”
Drolett has published a website chronicling the entire sinkhole debacle.
She’s even gone as far as to include a plethora of communications between her, Mark Banta, City officials, and others.
Take a gander at the data pile up here.
As for Walker’s 1834 and Soulshine, renderings courtesy of ai3 show what could have been.
[Editor’s note: this article was updated with comments from Piedmont Park Conservancy.]